The primary direction of my work is dedicated to the visual representation of past literary works, historical figures, myths, and stories which are partially lost to time. In the space between the event and our current time there are gaps in perception, memory, materials and history that we fill with how we interpret our present world. The cultural, physical, and philosophical space in which we inhabit is the modifier of how our past is seen and the indicator of the direction of our future. We cannot help but to see the past through the lenses of our time and because of this the past can appear to be a strange and at times unknowable place.
I address the space between history and contemporary perception by making surfaces that are variously layered, abraded, stained, cleaned, collaged with found objects and over-painted. An eroding wall surface that has been subject to the vagaries of time is analogous to the way the space of the past is perceived in the present. In the worn surface we can see the march of time and ponder the various ways in which the surface was affected by time. Ideas of support or ruin, asset or liability, progress or decay can all be seen in such surfaces at various times.
I have taken on an ongoing project to bring visual expression to the surviving work of the Greek lyric poet Sappho. Her work survives as fragmentary traces of intense verbal imagery and metaphor. The nature of her surviving work as parts isolated from their original context matches well with my process and had provided me with a rich source of material from which to interpret as visual imagery.
Tom Kelly is a self-taught mixed-media visual artist. His work has been shown regionally in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky as well as in the the global Slideluck Potshow. Kelly cites the lyric writing of Sappho, Waits/Brennan, Leonard Cohen, the re-use of everyday objects, ancient history, and the poetry of Thomas Gray, William Butler Yeats, and Theodore Roethke as inspirations for his work. His paintings appear in private collections in London, Washington DC, Arizona, and in Ohio. In the Fall of 2008 he made his museum debut at the Southern Ohio Museum for his "if not, winter" series of works on paper. In 2011 he was named a finalist for a Greater Columbus Arts Council Visual Arts Fellowship....